The Anniston Star from Anniston, Alabama on April 27, 1978 · Page 29
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The Anniston Star from Anniston, Alabama · Page 29

Anniston, Alabama
Issue Date:
Thursday, April 27, 1978
Page 29
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She AnniBton tar Thursday, April 27, 1978 m Waldo' s a 'bedroom community I : j It's no thriving metropolis, but officials have improvement plans 'PPER town hall and fire station is nearing completion. Fire Chief . , -. l .. Iter ITarl UavnM avrwto fha (vhl.ua9P nrni,l in ki iumnlatiul ' . '. tT rm -fc By DEBBIE SKIPPER Star Staff Writer WALDO Waldo isn't exactly a thriving metropolis. In fact, it's not even a bustling little town. But even with a population, by East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission (EAC) estimates, of 234, the small Talladega County town manages a two-day Sorghum Soppin' celebration each year and is building a new town hall and fire station with proceeds from the sorghum sales. The town officials also anticipate extensive housing rehabilitation and installation of a water system. On Sorghum Soppin' days, neighbors and friends come to the almost 150-year-old Riddle mill where members of the 14-man volunteer fire department make the sorghum with mule power and taste homemade biscuits, whole-hoe sausage and pure syrup for $2 a plate. But usually the town is, if not asleep, then empty, with its inhabitants at work in other area cities, and there are only occasional visitors to the downtown's sporting goods store, barbeque restaurant and Union 76 station. IN ITS RUSTIC, woodsy setting, Waldo looks like a likely haunt for a Henry David Thoreau, rambling through the woods exclaiming the necessity of living a simple life. What Waldo lacks in activity, however, it makes up in history. Or as Waldo Mayor A.M. Hocutt says, "We've got . more history than anything else." Waldo became an Incorporated city because shop owners and residents felt they weren't getting their money's worth from the police jurisdiction tax levied on them by Talladega, says Hocutt and Evelyn Collier. Mrs. Collier's husband, Howard, built the three-store downtown area when the couple moved to Waldo 25 years ago. One of the town's first projects since incorporation in December, 1972. was building a new city hall with volunteer labor and sorghum and rummage sale proceeds. The old mill house is being used for council meetings now, but the new McKnight's lettering shown on town hall bar! Haynes expects the two-year project to be completed this summer, with the new building to house the fire department, mayor's office, a kitchen and meeting room. Another council hope is to secure Community Development block grant funds for extensive housing rehabilitation and possibly installation of a water system. EAC'S JERRY Chandler, who is working with Waldo's officials to apply for the CD funds, says the town will have to compete statewide for a share of the $11.7 million designated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for nonmetropolitan communities. "If the project seems feasible, Waldo is not only going to apply for housing rehabilitation which it has already decided to do but for the water project," Chandler says. Based on 1975 estimates, Waldo's poverty level stands at 30.9 percent and its substandard housing at 54.1 percent. Hocutt says between about 40 and 45 percent of the town's population is black. "The vast majority of people (in Waldo) have wells," Chandler says. "Some have cisterns. Some have to haul water from a neighbor's well or cistern." Councilman Fred McKnight, whose "roots" are connected with the community's establishment, says half the city's black population does not have access to a well. He says some have to use the fire department's well to get water. MCKNIGHT'S AUNT. Lavinia Riddle Grider, says Waldo Councilwoman Hatty Jones, a black, was telephoned from the HUD office in Washington, D C, repeatedly to find out if the housing rehabilitation plan would be detrimental to the black community. Mrs. Grider says the councilwoman replied, "We don't have a black community." Mrs. Grider says Waldo originally was not a plantation community "just small crops mostly." In the 1800s, Samuel Stuart Riddle, McKnight's greatgrandfather, emigrated to Waldo from York County, Pa., to take over operation of the mill, built in 1831. He married Maria Waldo, whose family had settled the community when the Indians still inhabited the land. Also in 1831, an iron forge in Waldo was built. Riddle and his brother bought and developed it, naming it Maria Forge after Samuel's wife. McKnight says it was the first forge in east Alabama. Iron was shipped in from Ironaton and Jenifer by ox cart, he says, and the creek near the mill, running under a still-standing covered bridge, served as water power. The forge operated until 1858, when it was burned .some say by Yankees during the Civil War, McKnight says. . The Riddles owned and operated the grist mil! until the 1920s, with farmers from Coosa, Clay and Randolph counties bringing their wheat and com to it for grinding. Mrs. Grider says there really were three mills built in the same place. THOUGH THERE WAS only one slave in Waldo, belonging to Mrs. Riddle, many blacks came to settle in the community toward the end of the war, Mrs. Grider says. "One family let their slaves go and told 'em to go on. They f l fu tsAT " i V to - Str Photo by Horoct McDonaM Waldo fire truck soon to get cover of new town hall and fire station Nad no where to go and they drifted over to here. And the Riddles hired 'em. Some even took the name of Riddle but they weren't Riddle slaves," she says, j "The reason why the mill petered. out was everybody Stopped growing wheat and corn," Mrs. Grider says "They went to cotton. Cotton was king in the 1920s and '30s. Now Tey've gone to grazing which is much better." She remembers carrying her lunch in a syrup bucket to a dne-room schoolhouse. I-"I adored it (Waldo) I rambled around the woods with the dogs, waded in the creek . . . wore overalls when it was scandalous for girls to wear pants. People would say why 4oes Walter Riddle (her father) let his little 'boy' wear long Hair like that," she recalls, chuckling ' In many ways, residents say, Waldo has not changed much over the years It's nearly 1.000 acres have few businesses and its residents have little desire to see it grow very much The town often is omitted from Alabama road maps HOCUTT, "RESIDENT of the area for 25 years ami owner of Talladega Foundry, calls Waldo a "bedroom community' He says it "really isn't" growing "It's not that type of town. Growth might not even be desireable " He says his ambitions for Waldo lay in developing its historic aspects and in improving the welfare of the community and its living standards McKnight calls Waldo's growing a "moot question Hocutt owns all the land on one side of the creek And I own all on the other side, and neither one of us are going to do anything with it." 'Chilling' reality tracks Trooper Mike Gregg By DENNIS LOVE Star Staff Writer LINEVILLE - The bullet holes around the front window of this Clay County town's tiny police station are uncomfortably real, left behind by some passersby whose prank seems far less funny than probably was Intended. The bullet holes serve to remind those who frequent the place, like State Trooper Mike Gregg, of the chilling reality of a law officer's job. Gregg. 28. honored recently as Alabama's Trooper of the Year, was sitting in the station on a stool next to the window, talking with Lineville police officers Manon Irvin and Sidney Ford. It was Wednesday, which meant most of the town was motionless and silent, having closed up for its traditional midweek siesta. Much of the banter inside the police station was directed at the off-duty Gregg, good-natured ribbing about his award and his trip the previous day to Montgomery At the Capitol there had been a brief ceremony in his honor, and Gov. George Wallace had presented Gregg with the Department of Public Safety's Distinguished Service Award, that agency's highest symbol of recognition. The dialogue, however, takes a more serious turn when the topic of what prompted Gregg to be considered for his ,l r if b MIKE GREGG award and, thus, duty in the line of fire is broached. "You just have to tell yourself it'll always be somebody else (who will get shot)." Gregg said. "It's part of the job, and you just have to gear yourself to live with it. You can't really get away from Davis. "You just never know when something might happen to put you in that type situation." GREGG, who patrols his native Clay County, knows the feeling better than most. He was faced with a "situation" last Christmas Day. He was called to assist Randolph County Sheriff C.W. Thompson and a deputy in responding to a reported assault and robbery. Gregg, like other Anniston District troopers, often is called into service throughout several area counties, and did not consider the call unusual. When Gregg and the others arrived at the scene, they found the man who allegedly made the call showing signs of intoxication. Investigating further, the officers found a cache of illegal liquor in his attic. As Gregg and the others began to confiscate the contraband, the resident suddenly produced a pistol and shot Gregg in the chest. Although in severe pain and shock and in a position to leave the area of danger. Gregg drew his revolver and returned the fire, hitting the man as he turned to fire at the deputy. GREGG was hospitalized for about a week, and before long was back on active duty. He considers himself lucky. "I don't even remember getting hit at first," he recalls. "It didn't even hurt at the time. All I could think of was that he was going to keep shooting." Two charges of assault with intent to murder are pending against the suspect. whp is scheduled to be tried in May, according to Randolph County Circuit Clerk Hardy Hendon. Gregg also was cited for his efforts in connection with the apprehension of escapees from the Clay and Randolph county jails in 1977 In addition to his Trooper of the Year honor and Distinguished Service Award, Gregg was given a plaque, an engraved gold watch and 100 gallons of gasoline by the Alabama Petroleum Council Seemingly small compensation for a man who risked his life to perform his job well. But rewards often have less to do with job satisfaction than other factors. Gregg is bappy. he says, because he is close to home, has career opportunities and a degree of freedom he appreciates. "I ENJOY being outside, and that's where I am most of the time." he says. "I couldn't work all cooped up in a factory i somewhere. And with this job you i have somebody looking over shoulder all the time." Gregg is wetting his feet rather quickly May 5 will mark his second year as a trooper, and he says he is still learning the responsibilities, nuances and quirks of the job. "The biggest thing is learning people." he says, watching through the window as a lone pedestrian strolled by. "Everybody's different. f got into law i factory rtu dorTM er your enforcement because I wanted to help people I think that's what it's all about, anyway " Gregg was first assigned to Lincoln in Talladega County after becoming a trooper. He then put in an application to transfer to Clay County, which was approved in November, 1976. Until recently he was the only trooper assigned to Clay, but has since been joined by trooper H L. Jones, and together they patrol the county's 612 square miles THE POLICE station conversation has drifted to the subject of wives and families. The coming and going at all hours, the stress and the demands all have their strains on a law enforcement officer's personal life, Gregg says "This is not an 9-l(Pi job by any means," he says. "Anyone looking for regular hours doesn't get into law enforcement. That part of it can get tough 'You can't be involved in law-enforcement without an understanding wife." he says as heads nod around the room. "You can't even start the job without that. Leaving the house at all hours of the night, in all kinds of weather Gregg says his wife Barbara and their three sons have an understanding of his job and its duties, and that helps Also helpful, he says, is living and working in home territory where he and Barbara can be close to their families POLICING one's old stomping grounds can be a two-way street, Gregg says "It definitely has its advantages and disadvantages," he says. "I guess I know-just about everybody in this county It's an advantage because people are more likely to tell me something we need to know than they would a stranger That's a big help "But sometimes you have to arrest somebody or give a ticket to somebody you know well, and you have to deal with them fairly, without partiality. People don't understand that sometimes." Gregg says. "I've just learned to treat somebody like I would want to be treated, and people around here will accept you for what you are They'll respect you for it" The conversation winds down, and Gregg excuses himself to go home It is windy outside, but he has promised his wife to put up a television antenna He leaves, and officers Irvin and Ford stand by the door, one preparing to go on duty, the other off As an afterthought Irvin says. Hey, no kidding about those guys they're great to have around and will do anvthing to help you out. All you have to do is push a button " All things considered. Stale Trooper Mike Gregg is probably more than happy to be available (Counties ponder suit for TV A funds From Staff, Wire Reports DECATUR If 16 North Alabama counties follow through with a planned suit to get a portion of the Tennessee Valley Authority's money to the state and win Cherokee County is In for 1220,000. Those are lot of "ifs," but the counties moved closer to their goal Wednesday night when their seven-member screening committee discussed law firms to represent their claim. Limestone County Commissioner Charles Christopher, a committee member, said two law firms probably will represent all of the counties -Butler and Potter of Huntsville and Stames, Starnes. Smith and Wilkes of Guntersville. Both firms will have to submit proposals for filing a lawsuit .',. -v-;.-- 'T' '-'-'. Four law firmi were interviewed In Wednesday's meeting, but only those two asked to submit proposals. Christopher said the meeting was called after the Alabama Legislature failed to pass a bill giving the counties up to 80 percent of the money over the next few years. , Although the bill came close to passing in the legislative session, he said there it no real hope for a compromise in a special session. He said central and southern counties will not go along with a compromise. - Suits nave been filed In other TVA states, be aid. and the plaintiffs have won. ' Christopher said the counties want a division of the $20 million TVA pays to the state in lieu of property taxes With 6Vi mills of the money in each . county continuing to go to the state. The balance, Christopher said, "would be returned to counties. cities and school boards " The committee is made up of representatives of those three groups, he said. The members were elected by the county representatives. Cherokee County Commission Chairman Tom Wade Hampton said his county is not represented on the screening committee but supports the planned law suit. He said $220,000 will go to Cherokee County if the suit is filed and won. A committee spokesman. Fletcher Selden. said the law firms were optimistic about the chances of winning a suit. i A Huntsville school board member, Selden said six to 100 north Alabama governmental units would share in the actibn. Christopher said there will be a committee meeting soon and a'Tneeting of the involved counties sometime in the middle of May. Carrollton lands new plant; 'will employ 3,000 persons CARROLLTON. Ga. - CBS Inc. has announced it will start construction in late summer here of the world's largest record and tape manufacturing plant and distribution center. The $50 million facility is expected to employ 3.000 persons and should begin operation in the mid-1980s. CBS officials made the announcement Wednesday in Atlanta Georgia Gov. George Busbee said the number of persons to be employed "is the largest initial employment ever pledged to any state in the Southeast." the plant will have a capacity to produce 500,000 records and tapes a day and is the largest single construction outlay in the history of CBS. according to CBS president .- ' . John Backe. CBS is the world's leading producer, manufacturer and marketer of recorded musii . The company reviewed mote than 300 proposed locations in seven Southeastern states before choosing Carrollton. actty of some 14.000 people Carrollton is 50 miles west of Atlanta and about 20 miles east of Ranbume in Cleburne County. Major factors in Carrollton's favor, CBS officials said, were the available work force, availability of transportation and energy sources and the receptiveness of local governments. The new plant and distribution center will be built on a 140-acre site in a four-vear-old industrial park. The site is served by a line and is six miles from I 20 '

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